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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
First show for Iran's Western art
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran
The complete collection is on display for the first time
A collection of modern art that has spent much of the past 25 years in a vault has gone on public display in Iran for the first time.

The exhibition at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts includes works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Gauguin, and Warhol.

Most of the 188 works were purchased to further Iran's cultural activities by the wife of the late Shah.

But the Shah's fall saw the collection locked away by an Islamic government opposed to Western influence.

The Modern Art Movement exhibition runs for the next seven weeks.


Some of the paintings from the collection were put on display when the museum opened in 1978.

And a few of the pictures were exhibited after museum director Ali-Reza Samiazar was appointed by President Mohammad Khatami's reformist government in 1998.

Francis Bacon painting
The works have spent much of the last 25 years in a vault

But the exhibition marks the first time the collection has been displayed together, said Mr Samiazar.

Among the paintings on display are: Andy Warhol's portraits of Mick Jagger and Mao; Francis Bacon's Two Figures Lying on a Bed with Attendant, and Jackson Pollack's Mural on Indian Red Ground.

Three works in the collection - among them Gabriel, a highly-regarded Auguste Renoir portrait of a semi-nude girl - were not included to avoid offending conservatives.

The museum also hosted a British sculpture exhibition featuring works by Damien Hirst and Henry Moore in 2004.

But with a recent shift to a hardline government, the future for similar displays is uncertain.

"It's a sensational show for all of us and, considering the political situation, it could be quite a controversial show as well," said Mr Samizar.

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